A diverse place with miles of scenic coastline, Alaska is one of the most interesting destinations to visit. Around two million people visit this US state annually. Surrounded by snow, mountains, and a rugged landscape, Alaska is like no other.
If you want to glide through the snow, watch icebergs tower over the waters of the Arctic, and witness majestic whales in their natural habitat, Alaska is right up your alley. One of the most popular ways to visit Alaska is by opting for an Alaskan cruise.
Cruises are one of the most popular ways to go out and about in Alaska. Each cruise has a personalised schedule that focuses on exciting things in the state, whether it is getting up close to the wildlife or learning more about Alaska’s culture. There are many factors to take into consideration before embarking on an Alaskan cruise expedition.
Here is everything you need to know about Alaska cruises.
There are several cruise lines that offer trips and vacation itineraries to Alaska. These include the major cruise companies and small yet luxurious ships. The popular Alaska operators are Holland Americana and Princess. Yet nearly every cruise line has one ship that sails to Alaska. Some of them include:
- Carnival cruise
- Cunard line
- Disney Cruises
- Norwegian cruise line
- Regent seven seas cruise
- Silversea cruises
- Viking Cruises and more
How long does the cruise last?
Alaskan cruises range anywhere from 4- to 29-night itineraries. But there are other cruises that have a short trip ranging from 6 to 9 nights.
When is the cruise season in Alaska?
The cruise season runs from mid-May to mid-September in Alaska. However, mid-June through mid-July is the peak season for cruisers as the weather remains favourable.
When is the best time to visit Alaska?
Cruises usually depart in July, while the least number of cruisers embark in September. The perfect time to visit Alaska depends on the activities you would like to enjoy.
- Wildlife: Wildlife spotting is unforeseeable in Alaska, but you can still catch glimpses of several animals in late May and early June. During these months, mothers and cubs or calves are generally spotted. The prime season for bear watching is from late June to early July.
- Fishing: Species of various fish such as Pacific salmon, Dolly Varden, rainbow and lake trout, Arctic grayling, and northern pike can be found. Fishing can be enjoyed at any time of the month in Alaska.
- National parks: Some cruises have land tours included in their itinerary that take cruisers through national parks, such as Denali National Park. The best season for this tour takes place in July and the following months.
- Berry picking: Summer berry picking is a popular activity in Alaska. There are many varieties of berries available in the state at places like Hatcher Pass, Eagle River Valley, Old Johnson Trail, and more. The best month for berry picking in Alaska is late August or early September.
- Northern lights: The beautiful phenomenon of the northern lights can also be seen in Alaska. The northern lights take place during all four seasons but become harder to observe under the midnight sun. The ideal month to see the northern lights is September. The far north regions and interiors of Alaska, especially Fairbanks, are the top places to spot the lights.
- Midnight Sun: The midnight sun season runs from April to late August when the sun never sets. It peaks during the summer solstice in June.
Where do the Alaska cruises sail from?
Alaskan cruises usually sail from Seattle, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Cruisers can also fly to Alaska’s Ketchikan, Anchorage, and Juneau to board the cruise directly.
Which itinerary is the best?
Each Alaskan cruise has its own top itinerary that they recommend to cruisers. There is no ‘one’ itinerary that is the best, as it depends on people’s preferences as well. Yet, some of the most popular ones include cruising through Alaska’s routes like the Inside Passage, Icy Strait Point, Glacier Bay, the Gulf of Alaska, and more.
Here are a few additional things to expect and remember about an Alaskan cruise:
The spectacular wildlife and tundra of Alaska can be spotted during Alaskan cruises. Grizzly bears, moose, mountain goats, bison, wolves, wolverines, and more can be seen. You must always have your camera and binoculars ready to capture the movements of the animals from a distance.
Marine animals like sea otters, sea lions, seals, and Pacific walrus are observed in Alaskan waterways and offshore. Alaska is also the perfect place for whale watching, as you can spot nine different types of whales. These are the Blue, beluga, bottlenose, bowhead, humpback, orca, grey, minke, and sperm whales.
Popular Alaskan birds such as owls, swans, puffins, and songbirds are seen in the mountains and prairies. However, the iconic birds are bald eagles, which are very common in Alaska.
Unconventional wakeup calls
Alaskan cruises often have midnight wake-up calls for the northern lights phenomenon in the middle of the night. You need to be ready for sudden calls in order to not miss important events during your trip.
Alaskan cruises have itineraries that give cruisers the opportunity to learn more about indigenous tribes, namely the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian of Alaska. Not only do you obtain knowledge about the culture and its history, but you also gain a powerful experience.
Members of the indigenous communities often share stories and their way of life in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.
To spot the best and most scenic views of the glacier and marine animals swimming in the water, the balcony room must be given priority while booking.
Pick a time
It is always better to choose your cruise expedition according to the activities you would like to enjoy. Consider the peak and shoulder seasons as well as what they offer ahead of time.
If you get seasick easily, roundtrip cruises that spend the majority of the time in open waters may not be for you.
Temperatures in Alaska change drastically, varying from one destination to another. Even on sunny days, it can still be cold or chilly. It is crucial to pack layers of clothing to keep yourself as warm as possible. Raincoats and waterproof essentials should also be carried, as Alaska experiences rainfall at times.
Embrace the rugged landscape
On a cruise to Alaska, you need to get used to the rustic environment and vistas. The best way to embrace the gorgeous landscapes of Alaska is by booking excursions that let you explore the beautiful glaciers.
It is important to do in-depth research before you book your cruise vacation to Alaska, as it is one of the most off-beaten travel destinations. Nevertheless, it all becomes worth it when you witness its spectacular natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and everything else Alaska has to offer.
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